What does it take to start a league full of adrenalin-pulsing football minus the costs?
The answer, short and sweet is flag football with a side of “semi-contact blocking.” Many people often twist their heads in a state of befuddlement when I explain to them how my Saturday mornings are jam packed with semi-contact flag football every week, with similarly aged persons ranging between 18 and 45. Accustomed to the rigors of 9 to 5 jobs, we (approximately 200 players) pride ourselves on gracing the Washington DC, Polo grounds for action packed football with practically no out of pocket costs. To explain how this works, and how we all enjoy our work weeks (eagerly looking forward to re-living our high school days) I will describe briefly some of the secrets to our continued glory day activities.
Scouting the playing areas
A necessary part of any flag football league, requires a manager to find appropriate playing fields. The larger a city is, the more problems this element causes. For example, finding places to play football in Washington DC, requires us to compete with ultimate Frisbee players, softball enthusiasts, soccer players and the myriad of marathons Northern Virginia and DC sponsor. As a result, we often send scouts to potential field locations prior to assigning an area as a league operated playing ground. Scouts serve two purposes, one involves the actual observations of the field and the other involves whether there exist any competing parties or organizations that also use the pigskin grounds. In order to avoid permits, one can simply test the waters by asking other organizations in the vicinity of the scouting fields if they themselves have a permit. Such measures prevent your home grown league from getting preempted by a well-organized Shriner’s convention or some other marathon (insert label here) if in fact league management decides to play in a permit driven field.
In order to keep costs down regarding equipment, we found that some of the best means of purchasing flag football supplies involves using the internet or eBay. Not only do bulk sellers often have better selections than sporting good stores, but they normally sell flags, marking cones and boundary markers at quite a reduced rate. Quality does not have to be superb, as league dues will aid in replacing the durable plastic belts as the seasons continue on.
Building a playerbase
The most important aspect of keeping and creating a league is its playerbase. A manager needs to be active in screening casual players with those capable of bringing the heat. Competitiveness serves as a magnet in attracting more players and developing a loyal fan/player base. Moreover, the fact that one’s league serves as “semi-contact” allowing full abdomen to chest blocking immediately distinguishes your league from the several “hold your hands behind your back” flag football clubs that seriously struggle in keeping participants. Personally, I have recruited approximately 400 players in the last two years, and many of them stay, based on the rules and low cost per player (averaging around twenty dollars) for an entire 13 game season. Many of them enjoy the accolades served to themselves on our own football web site.
In sum, the above hints will assist the organizer in starting his or her league and I highly recommend that a league wide webmaster becomes involved in both organizing, delivering news and creating such editorials such as “power rankings,” “interviews” and “video clips.” The essence of having your own touchdown run or pass completed on video for the world to see motivates players to tell their friends and in turn drives even more competitive players to your developing league.